Lupinus perennis, Wild Lupine, Sundial Lupine, Native Wildflower
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Lupinus perennis L.
Sundial Lupine, Wild Lupine, Native wildflower
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
USDA Symbol: lupe3
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (I)
Showy, elongate clusters of purple, pea-like flowers top the 1-2 ft. stems of this perennial lupine. Blue, pea-like flowers are in an upright, elongated, terminal cluster on an erect stem with palmately compound leaves. Its leaves are palmately divided into 7-11 leaflets. Occasionally flowers range from pink to white.
The plant was once thought to deplete or “wolf” the mineral content of the soil; hence the genus name derived from the Latin lupus (“wolf”). Actually the plant and all the family enhances soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into a useful form. In the south this flower has narrower leaflets and is often recognized as a separate species, Nuttal’s Lupine (L. nuttallii). Two southern species with undivided elliptic leaves are Spreading Lupine (L. diffusus), with blue flowers and a whitish spot on the standard (upper petal), and Hairy Lupine (L. villosus), a hairy plant with lavender-blue flowers and a red-purple spot on the standard. They are found from North Carolina to Florida and west to Louisiana. A species found in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado, Nebraska Lupine (L. plattensis), has blue flowers with a dark spot on the standard and paddle-shaped leaflets. L. polyphyllus is becoming extremely abundant in the Northeast, particularly Maine and adjacent Canada; it was introduced from the Northwest.
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Palmate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Class: 1-3 ft.
Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Flowers rarely pink or white.
USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , ON
Native Distribution: NH to s. Ont., n. IL, n. IN & e. MN, s. to FL & LA
Native Habitat: Sand hills & clearings; open woods
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2) Soil Description: Dry, sandy soils. Conditions Comments: Requires good drainage, but is very adaptable. Benefit Use Wildlife: Deer browse foliage. Birds and small mammals eat the seeds. Warning: Plants in the genus Lupinus, especially the seeds, can be toxic to humans and animals if ingested. POISONOUS PARTS: Seeds. Toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include respiratory depression and slow heartbeat, sleepiness, convulsions. Toxic Principle: Alkaloids such as lupinine, anagyrine, sparteine, and hydroxylupanine. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.) The plant and all the family enhances soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into a useful form. (Niering) Conspicuous Flowers: yes Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds Larval Host: Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa sub. samuelis), Frosted Elfin butterfly (Callophrys irus) Value to Beneficial Insects Special Value to Native Bees Special Value to Bumble Bees